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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

PhD Roundtable 2024 Seminar

9 January 2024
Online via Zoom

For more information regarding this seminar, please email .

Event details

Join us for two talks from our PGR community.

A Marriage of Unequals?  A Historical Discussion of Romance and Marriage in Jewish Minsk in the Late Russian Empire with Insights from the Short Fiction of Working-Class Yiddish Female Writers - Sarah Prais

In this presentation I will ask how female working-class Yiddish writers portray the effect of local conditions, socio-economic status and gender roles on women's experience of marriage in the area of Minsk in the last decades of the nineteenth century.  The discussion will explore the transition from arranged marriages to partnerships based on romantic love, the intersection between marriage and political activism and  the effect of emigration and internal migration on married women.

Sarah Prais is doing a PhD dissertation at the Parkes Institute under the supervision of Claire Le Foll and Devorah Baum on the topic of 'Working class Jewish women of Minsk in the late 19th century: understanding their experience and their contribution to social justice activism through the prism of the short fiction of Roche Brokhes and her circle'. This research employs an interdisciplinary approach. It aims to explore this neglected literary genre published in the Yiddish Press, at the time of radical social and economic change and mass political activity in the North-Western provinces of the Russian empire.  This research also highlights the important contribution of female Yiddish writer-activists to the collective social movements in the under-researched area of  Minsk  and its unique Jewish milieu in the late Russian empire.

Epistolary Spaces and Archival Journeys: German-Jewish Families’ Correspondence During the Holocaust - Charlie Knight

During the 1930s and 40s German-Jewish physical and metaphysical spaces were diminished and often destroyed by the Nazi regime, prompting a retreat into the home and familial environment, followed by the movement to private ‘paper’ spaces such as the diary and the letter. With the letter often the only means of communication for separated families it assumed far greater importance in the lives of the writers and addressees in this time of rupture and upheaval. For descendants now, such collections of correspondence and other ephemera further speak not only to a material memory of migration, but as physical objects imbued with traumatic pasts.
This paper will examine the letter collections of a handful of German-Jewish refugee families arguing that the letter acted as a ‘epistolary space’ of connection for those separated historical actors during the Holocaust. It will also highlight both the history and memory of these private German-Jewish archives in order to tell a wider and longer history of such sources.

Charlie Knight is a postgraduate researcher at the Parkes Institute at the University of Southampton funded by the Wolfson Foundation for his research into the correspondence of German-Jewish families separated during the Holocaust. He has written, published and presented internationally on topics centred around the archive, letter writing, and knowledge of the Holocaust. Charlie was previously a content researcher at the Imperial War Museum and postgraduate representative for the British and Irish Association for Holocaust Studies; he is currently an Outreach Fellow at the Parkes Institute, and Communications Officer for the German History Society.

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